The Lucky 13

2013 was the worst year of my life. I don’t like to admit it, but I was probably depressed. I didn’t like the situation I was in, the job I was working, or the place I was living. I don’t think I liked anything. I was miserable and miserable to be around. I blamed the world and hated it at the same time.

I knew a dramatic change was the only thing that would get me out of my rut. So I took a big risk in 2014 and the payout was beyond measure. It wasn’t a financial success (far from it actually), and I didn’t find the love of my life or any sense of purpose.

But I did discover 13 things (there are probably more – I just haven’t realized them all yet) that changed me. Here we go…

You have only yourself to blame

It was Washington DC’s fault. It was my hangover’s fault. It was my boss’s fault. It was my student debt’s fault. It was the traffic’s fault. It was my friends’ faults.

It was everything’s and everyone’s fault but NEVER my fault.

The choices I chose led me directly to this point in my life. Instead of blaming the world for my problems, I started to focus on how I ended up making these decisions. I took responsibility for both the good and bad decisions I made. When I did this an amazing thing happened; I had no one else to blame for my failures. So I started focusing on making better decisions.

Alcohol is bad… really bad. But Beer is Good.

Except on VERY special occasions, two beers in one setting is my limit. Alcohol is a depressant. I’ve noticed that when I drink more than two beers, I am depressed the following day. Also I’m done with being hung-over. “There’s too much to do and too much to see waiting in front of me” to waste another day feeling dumb.

If you hate what you do, STOP immediately

I hated wealth management. When I look back at it, I am amazed I stuck with it for 3 years; most likely it was because I liked my co-workers, and I was petrified to make a change.

NEVER settle, constantly try new things – 2 careers or 20 careers – never stop being curious.

“But I have bills to pay!” STOP blaming the bills!

Cash is King

Liquid cash (not tied up in an IRA or 401K) is my favorite friend. 59 ½ is a long time from now. Who knows I might be dead by then.

Stop saving for your retirement – start saving for now.

What does that mean?

We are told that we are supposed to work 40 years at one thing and then retire; using our savings that we accumulated our life to live on. So we dump cash into vehicles that we can’t touch until we retire; sacrificing everyday for a better life at some unidentified older point tomorrow. Funny thing is that none of our clients at my old wealth management firm got rich that way. Okay maybe a few did, but the majority got rich by investing in themselves, by choosing themselves. (i.e. continuing education or starting their own companies).

So why is the conventional wisdom to save in IRAs? Most times conventional wisdom is wrong. Take the cash now. Here are some fun things that having a lot of cash today allows you to do:

• You can quit your job
• You can go back to school
• You can travel the world for a long time
• You invest in experiences
• You can start your own business
• You can invest in yourself
• You can be flexible
• You can follow your passion
• You can rent apartments when you don’t have enough income to be approved…
• You can live

But we are told that compounded interest is our best friend. Fuck that, a compounded life is.

I pray that retirement never comes.

Move to where you want to live – not where the opportunities are.

If you are happy where you live, chances are you will find the opportunities. I went to Colorado for vacation every year and absolutely loved it.

People told me this was because I was on vacation.

Guess what – I still love it. I guess I’m still on vacation.

Be grateful … for everything

I have the best family. I love everything about them.

I have great friends, great co-workers, and a great job. I sell hiking boots and talk about mountains all day. I get to hear people’s adventures!

I have a roof above my head (despite it sometimes leaking). I have car that allows me to be in one of most beautiful places on the earth in 45 minutes.

I have literally an unlimited knowledge at my fingertips via the Internet. I have YouTube so I can watch Thug Life videos all day. I have a Kindle. I have AN ENTIRE library in my hand. How amazing is that?

Find a Mentor

James Altucher is my mentor. I’ve never met him, and I have only emailed him once. But his blog has changed my life. Find a mentor, even if it is only on the web.

Stop aiming for a goal in the future, be your best today.

The future is too far and too unknown and the past is gone. But today is your best friend. Do your best today and everyday. All the future really is a combination of all your days. Might as well make each one count.


When I first moved to Denver, I searched AngelList for startups that sounded appealing. I found one  and emailed their CEO 10 ideas he should implement for his company. I spent all day on it.

I told him I didn’t expect anything – I just wanted to help. He emailed me back thanking me and asked me for more ideas on a new aspect of his business. So I spent another day working on it. He then took me out to coffee to discuss my ideas in person.

I got a free cup of coffee, a sick hat, and a new friend in Denver just because I gave for free.

Change is possible but super hard

“Become the person you want to become through change and living out your dreams.” – said every self-help book…

I don’t like this mantra. First, what is the person you want to become and what are you dreams? I’m almost 27 and I still don’t know my ‘passion.’ Can we just have 1 passion in our entire lives?

Most self-help books already assume you know these things about yourself.

Second, suppose you are lucky enough to have figured out your passion (if you did please email me or leave a comment and tell me how you did it).

Self-help experts forget to tell you, however, that change takes a LONG time. It takes blood, tears, hardships, loneliness, and a ton of persistence. It takes days, months, are even years every day working towards your ‘change.’

Realize this and you can change to anything you want.

Take care of yourself

“You are what you eat.” I’m chicken and peas sprinkled with a lot of coffee.

Eat well, sleep well, and think well.

You will get sick less often, have more success, and be a better person.

Grow a beard

I never had a full beard. Plus when you have a beard you can do awesome things like this:

Lastly.. do what you want. Be extremely selfish.

You can get advice from your friends and family… but listen to yourself. Your 20’s are a pivotal moment. Listen to your gut instinct and follow it. I can’t describe it. Only you will know when something is off. Practice saying no. Only say yes to what you want to do. You might burn a few bridges or get disapproving comments from those close to you. But who cares – do you really want to be friends with people who don’t support you anyways?

Follow your path, say no to bad influences, and an endless amount of love and abundance will surface.

Keep Chugging People. Bring on 2015!

 “Keep Smiling” – Tony

2 Comments on “The Lucky 13

  1. Bret! I had no idea you did this awesome adventure! I should have known from the days of setting off Emmet’s smoke alarm by using the fog machine to enshroud your room that you did things your way. Looks like you had a spectacular time, with some solid facial hair to boot. Way to escape “The Waiting Place” and go to the places you’ll go. What are you up to these days? Planning your next adventure? It sounds like you’re liking Denver, but I really think you should move to Nashville so we can be neighbors! Anyway, congrats, dude! Stay Emmetlicious.

    • Hi Brandon – good to hear from you! I am in Denver working at REI, skiing when I can, and teaching myself coding. Come this summer I will probably attend one of those coding book camps with the goal of becoming a software developer… one day. I want to hear about the AT! When are you going to do the PCT or Continental Trail? Also what are you doing in Nashville?

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